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The Stanford Ocean Acidification Experience (2016)

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World Premiere: Tribeca Film Festival 2016


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Most people have never heard of ocean acidification—the process by which the ocean becomes more acidic as it absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) that has been emitted into the atmosphere. Visualizing the impact to marine life is challenging. As a solution, Stanford researchers have produced a virtual underwater ecosystem to allow you to observe firsthand what rocky reefs are expected to look like by the end of the century if we do not curb our CO2 emissions.

With funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford researchers have designed an educational experience that makes the impossible possible: watch the ocean absorb invisible CO2 molecules, a rocky reef degrade and marine life disappear as the ocean acidifies. Each step in the journey is based on marine science research.

The Stanford Ocean Acidification Experience (SOAE) has been presented to decision and policy makers around the world, including the U.S. Senate and the Palauan National Congress. Since it’s public release, it has been downloaded in over 100 countries and territories and it has been translated into French, Italian, and Portuguese, with more languages to come.

A map of all the countries and territories that have at least one download of the Stanford Ocean Acidification Experience

A visit to the United States Senate to present the Stanford Ocean Acidification Experience and the Crystal Reef

Most recently, SOAE is being used in museums, schools, and other institutions around the world as part of one of the largest-scale VR studies ever.

“This simulation shows in rich detail the damage carbon pollution inflicts on our oceans. I appreciate the Stanford Ocean Acidification Experience for calling attention to the peril our oceans face and what we must do to protect them.” – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse